Selfishness as Sin 11

While I am not dealing directly with the quote by Emmons as I have been, for the next few posts under this heading I will be dealing with an article published in Baptist Press and other SBC magazines. It is a very clear example of what happens when you push evangelism without dealing with the sinfulness of souls and without taking the character of God into account. It was written by Ronnie Floyd who is president of the Southern Baptist Convention and a pastor in northwest Arkansas.—what-happened-to-evangelism-in-the-sbc

What happened to evangelism in the Southern Baptist Convention? It was our commitment to evangelism in the past that set us apart from all other denominations. The events and experiences churches offered to their community were done with the specific intent of winning others to faith in Christ. What happened? Where did this go?

What our pastors and churches can do
The real issues of evangelism lie with our pastors and churches. It is on us, not our Southern Baptist structure, regardless of how they could be or should be assisting and helping our churches. Therefore, pastors and churches, please consider these things to see more people reached for Christ and baptized by your church:

7. Renew your commitment to develop, equip and empower people to share their faith with lost people regularly.
8. Create a specific strategy to reach your community or city with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Let’s not be paralyzed. By no means do I believe I have all the answers, but I do know: It begins with us. It begins with our churches.
Do something. Do more than you are doing now. Take a risk.
Return to the importance of reaching and baptizing people.

The first thing to be noticed is that people do not need to share their faith with lost people at all. Instead, they need to teach sinners of their lost condition and proclaim the true Christ to them. Lost people are lost and as such they need to know the depth of their lostness and just how unable they are to rescue themselves. Lost people need to know that other sinners (no human being) can rescue them or even help rescue them, but instead lost people need to hear of the One who alone can rescue them and bring them life. People should be equipped to teach people about their sin and inability and then proclaim Christ and His free-grace to them, but there is also nothing we can do to empower people to do that. Only the Holy Spirit can empower people to do that and He will only do that in those who have utterly lost all their own power and look to Him alone.

Where would a specific strategy come from to reach our community or city with the Gospel? Does the Bible prescribe that? We know that Paul was even told not to go to certain places. What in the world can it mean for us to come up with a strategy to do this? It sounds like there is a theology that undergirds the whole process is Arminian at best. We must come up with the strategy, we must come up with the means, and we must come up with the message. We must equip people and we must empower people. While that sounds like what may be a good business model, it is not Christianity. The power of God to save sinners is the true Gospel. The true Gospel comes to helpless and broken sinners. As Jesus said, unless you are converted and become like a small child you will not be converted (Matthew 18). Does Floyd have classes on how to help people be broken from their pride and become like small children? Does he have classes on how bad the bad news is so that people can understand just how good the good news is? The local church is God’s primary method for proclaiming the Gospel. We are to lift up Christ and we are to love one another (as the Bible says, not according to man’s way of loving). If we have love one for another, then others will know that they (or we) are His disciples. It is easier to carry an easy message to the world than it is to truly love believers.

The Gospel and reaching out with the Gospel does not begin with us, but instead it begins with Christ. It may be important to do something, but there is no risk for those who love Christ and follow Him. We are to live by grace alone instead of taking risks. We are in the hands of the sovereign God and there is no risk in following Him and bowing to Him and utterly giving up all into His hands. Instead of returning to the importance of reaching people and baptizing them, we should return to God in a broken-hearted repentance. Our first duty is to God and only when we are broken and humbled by Him will we really be ready to reach out to others. Proud and selfish religious people may have a way of reaching out to proud and selfish non-religious people, but that way is that the proud and religious people have constructed an idol of the true God in their own hearts and that is the one they will go out and tell non-religious people about. It is the “god” that the selfish religious people love and so it is the one they will tell selfish non-religious people about and they will all love those who love them, but that is not biblical love at all. In fact, the love of the world and of selfish religious people is really hate in the eyes of God. The selfish hearts of the religious world want an easy message they can tell others and they will all be deceived and perish in hell forever. It is not a game, it is that serious. Talk selfish people into praying prayers and getting dunked in water without their hearts being broken and God giving them a new heart by grace alone and that will be nothing more and nothing less than having their blood on the hands of those who did so. It is that serious.

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